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Do Employers Truly Understand the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)? – Part II

In part one, of this two-part series titled, “Do Employers Truly Understand the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)?” the definition of the FLSA, who is covered by the FLSA, and who is subject to minimum wage payments, and overtime pay for both private and public employers who have employees engaged in fire protection and law enforcement activities were discussed.  In this article, we will define the recordkeeping and child labor standards of the FLSA. 

To review, the FLSA establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor standards affecting full-time and part-time workers in the private sector and in federal, state, and local governments. Special rules apply to state and local government employment involving fire protection and law enforcement activities, volunteer services, and compensatory time off instead of cash overtime pay. Refer to the article titled, “Do Employers Truly Understand the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)?” – Part I, for information on overtime payments in the state and local government sector.


Every covered employer (refer to Part I of this series of articles), must keep certain records for each nonexempt employee.  The FLSA requires no particular form for the records, but does require that the records include certain identifying information about the employee and data about the hours worked and the wages earned.  The law requires this information to be accurate.  The following is a listing of the basic records that an employer must maintain for each employee:

  • Employee’s full name and social security number.
  • Address, including zip code.
  • Birth date, if younger than 19.
  • Sex and occupation.
  • Time and day of week when the employee’s workweek begins.
  • Hours worked each day.
  • Total hours worked each workweek.
  • Basis on which employee’s wages are paid, e.g., $9.00 per hour, $440, per week, piecework, etc.
  • Regular hourly pay rate.
  • Total daily or weekly straight-time earnings.
  • Total overtime earnings for the workweek.
  • All additions to or deductions from the employee’s wages.
  • Total wages paid each pay period.
  • Date of payment and the pay period covered by the payment.

The FLSA requires that each employer preserve for at least three-years payroll records, collective bargaining agreements, sales and purchase records. Records on which wage computations are based should be retained for two-years, e.g., time cards and piece work tickets, wage rate tables, work and time schedules, and records of additions to or deductions from wages. Employers may use any timekeeping method that they choose, as long as it is complete and accurate. Records required for exempt employees differ from those for nonexempt employees. Special information is required for homeworkers, for employees working under uncommon pay arrangements, for employees to whom lodging or other facilities are furnished, and for employees receiving remedial education.  Employers may refer to the DOL’s website at www.dol.gov/agencies/whd for additional information.

The required records must be open for inspection by the Wage and Hour Division’s (WHD) representatives, who may ask the employer to make extensions, computations, or transcriptions. The records may be kept at the place of employment or in a central records office. Employers of federal and state governments must follow their specific state records retention guidelines, which may be different from the FLSA’s federal guidelines with regards to records retention.

Child Labor Standards

The FLSA child labor standards are designed to protect the educational opportunities of minors and prohibit their employment in jobs and under conditions detrimental to their health or well-being. The standards include restrictions on hours of work for minors under the age of 16 and lists of hazardous occupations for both farm and non-farm jobs as declared by the Secretary of Labor to be too dangerous for minors to perform.  Complete information on prohibited occupations for minors may be found at www.youthrules.gov.

Regulations governing child labor in non-farm jobs differ somewhat from those pertaining to agricultural employment.  In non-farm work, the permissible jobs and hours of work, by age, are as follows:

  • Youths 18 years or older may perform any job, whether hazardous or not, for unlimited hours.
  • Minors 16 and 17 years old may perform any nonhazardous job, for unlimited hours.
  • Minors 14 and 15 years old may work outside school hours in various nonmanufacturing, non-mining, nonhazardous jobs under the following conditions:
    • No more than three-hours on a school day,
    • 18-hours in a school week,
    • eight-hours on a non-school day,
    • or 40-hours in a non-school week. 
    • Work may not begin before 7:00 a.m. nor end after 7:00 p.m., except from June 1st through Labor Day, when evening hours are extended to 9:00 p.m.
    • Under a special standard, minors who are 14 and 15 years old enrolled in an approved Work Experience and Career Exploration Program (WECEP) may be employed for up to 23-hours in school weeks and three-hours on school days (including during school hours).
    • Academically-oriented youths enrolled in an approved Work-Study Program (WSP) may be employed during school hours.

Age 14 is the minimum age for most non-farm work. However, at any age, minors may deliver newspapers, perform radio, television, movie, or theatrical productions, work for parents in their solely-owned non-farm business (except in mining, manufacturing, or hazardous jobs), or gather evergreens and make evergreen wreaths.

In farm work, permissible jobs and hours of work, by age, are as follows:

  • Minors 16 years an older may perform any job, whether hazardous or not, for unlimited hours.
  • Minors 14 and 15 years old may perform any nonhazardous farm job outside of school hours.
  • Minors 12 and 13 years old may work outside of school hours in nonhazardous jobs, either with a parent’s written consent or on the same farm as the parent(s).
  • Minors under 12 years of age may perform jobs on farms owned or operated by parent(s), or with a parent’s written consent, outside of school hours in nonhazardous jobs on farms not covered by minimum wage requirements.
  • Minors of any age may be employed by their parent(s) in any occupation on a farm owned or operated by their parent(s).

While the above are the federal standards with regards to child labor, employers are strongly encouraged to review their state’s child labor laws, as they may be more stringent compared to the federal laws and employer’s must follow the laws that favor the child. Refer to www.dol.gov/agencies/whd for additional and more detailed information.

For additional information on recordkeeping, and child labor standards of the FLSA, please contact us at www.newfocushr.com.

Written by:   Kristen Deutsch, M.B.A., CCP



Sources: Digital Reference Guide to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and FLSA Fact Sheets, Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor at www.dol.gov/agencies/whd  




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